City lists homelessness, vacation rental review, crime prevention among priorities
Improvements to the quality of life, infrastructure, and more in the city are the lofty goals of a process that ramps up tonight during an initial Palm Springs City Council study session.
More than 50 priorities are listed under four broad topics outlined in a 21-page strategic plan. City staff prepared the plan following a pair of City Council “visioning sessions” held last fall and it will be the topic of discussion during the 5:30 p.m. study session.
“(These) priorities are meant to act more like a compass, keeping the organization focused and moving in the same direction toward the most important outcomes,” City Manager Justin Clifton wrote in a staff report prepared for the study session. “[M]any of these priorities, like improving homelessness and reducing crime, are very large in scale. Establishing these priorities is not meant to convey that problems in these areas will be solved within a particular time frame.”
The four themes and their associated work items include:
Quality of life
Combating homelessness, often identified by city residents as the most significant issue facing the community, is listed as item 1A under this theme, with crime reduction, affordable housing, economic development, and “neighborhood issues” following. Work items include (but are not limited to):
- Building a homeless navigation center
- Implementing a neighborhood policing model
- Pursuing new affordable housing developments
- Monitoring for better broadband opportunities for residents
- Lobbying for the College of the Desert West valley campus in the city
- Reviewing the city’s short term vacation rental (STVR) program
- Creating a Section 14 reparations program
Accelerating the city’s climate action plan was listed atop this theme, with new policy consideration and internal policies and practices development. Work items include:
- A review of the Desert Community Energy program
- Exploration of community composting
- Creating green purchasing policies
Improving city facilities, long a priority before combating COVID-19 became a city priority, makes the list of infrastructure needs, as well as developing a five-year capital improvement plan and designing the city for the future. Work items include:
- Focusing on parks and community facilities
- Expanding walking and biking routes
- Updating zoning codes
Work under this theme is needed, city staff said, to remove barriers to participation in government, improve communication with city residents, enhance service levels, and improve financial management. Among the work items, the city seeks to focus on:
- Improving Spanish language communications
- Adjusting City Council salaries, adding a vehicle allowance, and addressing childcare needs
- Adjust staffing levels in the city
While some of the work listed in the document is currently underway, the timeline for completing all of it remains flexible. City Council members are expected to help narrow the focus of the work, but ultimately citizen input will guide what is undertaken and when.
“As it reads in front of the City Hall Chamber, ‘The People Are the City,’” staff wrote. “Since all the work of the organization is done by and for residents, residents must be a prominent part of the process.”
More information: Details of the study session, including an agenda, are available at the city website here.
TAHQUITZ COURT SELLS: A 108-unit affordable housing complex in Palm Springs sold for $19.7 million to a private investor in Utah, it was reported last week. Tahquitz Court Apartments, a two-story, garden-style community situated on a 5.4-acre lot off East Tahquitz Canyon Way, features a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with many priced below market rates. There is no guarantee that the units will remain part of the city’s affordable housing stock. The brokerage firm that listed the property wrote that it could be a “fantastic opportunity for investors through preservation and renewal of the affordability agreement or through repositioning as a market rate.” Discussion of the property had been on the closed session agenda of the Palm Springs City Council. However, the city did not make a bid.
MILESTONE MOMENT: The city’s 50th official neighborhood organization was recently recognized, marking a milestone for the program. Joining the Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) is the El Dorado Palms neighborhood, a 55+ mobile home development in the far southeast portion of the city, bordered on three sides by Cathedral City. Denise Goolsby, who manages the city’s Office of Neighborhoods, said the community is the third mobile home park to be recognized through the ONE-PS program and that two others have approached the city looking to join. More information about ONE-PS can be found here.
MURDER TRIAL: Closing arguments are slated to get underway today in the trial of a Cathedral City man accused of killing four people in Palm Springs three years ago. Jose Vladimir Larin-Garcia, 22, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, a special circumstance allegation of targeting multiple victims and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations for the deaths of Jacob Montgomery, 19, Juan Duarte Raya, 18, Yuliana Garcia, 17, and Carlos Campos Rivera, 25. The defense rested its case last week, and Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony Villalobos ordered jurors to return to the Larson Justice Center in Indio this morning when final statements from the two sides are expected to be presented. Larin-Garcia is being held without bail at the Benoit Detention Center in Indio.
? Today’s events
Highlights of what’s happening today in Palm Springs. Find complete listings on our community calendar.
- Modernism Week – the city’s annual celebration of all things midcentury modern – continues. Details are here.
- The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters meet for coffee (at Koffi) at 8 a.m,
- The Walk of Stars honors Dr. Albert T. Milauskas at 11 a.m.
- Junior Black Achievers holds a virtual meeting at 4 p.m.
- Jazz on the 2nd Floor takes place at the Cultural Center, starting at 5 p.m.
- The Palm Springs City Council holds a study session at 5:30 p.m.
- Toastmasters starts at 6 p.m. Send an email to [email protected] for more information and the Zoom link.
- The Palm Springs Unified School District Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. at district headquarters. The meetings are streamed in both English and Spanish.
? What to watch for
- The point-in-time count of unhoused residents throughout the county is tomorrow (Wednesday). Volunteers are gathering in Palm Springs starting at 5:30 a.m.
- Palm Canyon Theatre has scheduled its next performance – Palm Springs Getaway – for three weekends starting Friday.
- McCormick’s 72nd Classic Car Auction is scheduled for Friday through Sunday.
- The Palm Springs Black History Parade and Town Fair takes place Downtown on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
- A homeless navigation center discussion is planned for March 3 at the James O. Jesse Desert Highlands Unity Center
- The Richard M. Milanovich Legacy Hike and 5K Run at Indian Canyons on March 12 is open for registration.
- Heart-to-Heart Palm Springs is selling tickets for its March 12 Military Women Appreciation Luncheon. Details are here.